Controversial billionaire co-owned Hungarian property firm

As founder of Glencore the fittingly named Mark Rich pioneered global commodity trading and held business interests all over the globe, with Hungary no exception. Indicted in the US for tax evasion and cutting illegal oil deals with Iran, he was a fugitive from US justice for many years before being controversially pardoned by Bill Clinton on the last day of his presidency. His death in June saw obituaries appear in such publications as The New York Times and The Economist.

The billionaire’s Switzerland-registered company Marc Rich Real Estate GmbH owned shares in a property agency based in Hungary. The firm and one of its affilates Andria partly owns the Isaura 2 Diagonal S.A, which founded real estate manager Inmo Hungary Ltd in 2007, 20% of which is owned by the GT Hungária Ltd, headed by Oscar Pfeffermann, who like Rich was born in Antwerp. Pfeffermann has been ubiquitous in the Hungarian real estate business for decades and has been linked to several dubious property deals.

In 2010, Inmo shareholders received HUF 120 million (EUR 400,000 approx) in dividends. Intriguingly the company posted “other income” of HUF 330 million (EUR 1.1 million approx) for 2009, exactly the same amount they had filed for “opportunity cost compensation” in 2008. The same year the company also spent HUF 43 million (EUR 145,000 approx) on business and legal consultancy; triple its expenditure for property construction and consultancy.

Today, the Inmo Hungary Ltd does not officially belong to the Marc Rich group, although they are still contracted to the same law firm as the Isaura 2 Diagonal S.A, and the Marc Rich Real Estate GmbH which might mean that the company is part of Marc Rich’s inheritance.

The original Hungarian language article was posted on 30 October 2013. Translated by Péter Gyarmati.